Youth project set to shine at carnival

THULANI MAGAZI

More than 100 young people from Langa, Gugulethu and Samora Machel, all members of the ProjectPlayground, are set to join thousands of Capetonians in this year’s Cape Town Carnival, at the Green Point fan walk, on Saturday March 12.

The festival, which is in its seventh year, joins people from different backgrounds to celebrate Cape Town.

Different groups, from performers to musicians, accompanied by giant moving floats, walk the 2.5km while entertaining onlookers. And the excitement is mounting ahead of the big day.

Thembinkosi Matika, centre manager for ProjectPlayground in Langa, said the group would be taking part in the festival for a second time. They made their debut last year.

Mr Matika hailed the carnival. He said it gave opportunities to children who would otherwise not access them. For the festival, the group has been linked with another group from Fish Hoek.

Mr Matika saw the move as a challenge, but as an exciting opportunity for his group.

ProjectPlayground was established in 2010 to motivate and inspire children. It has offices in Gugulethu, Langa, and Samora Machel. It keeps children off the streets through drama, dance, music, netball and soccer.

Mr Matika sees the carnival as a great marketing tool for project. He said they are always looking for new partners to assist their children, in particular those who have just graduated from the project. The project only works with children until the age of 18.

“The partnerships ensure that they have something to do once they are no longer with us,” he said.

Mr Matika said a lot of effort has gone into getting the group ready for the festival.

“Most of our children come from different schools, and we can’t get them under one roof at the same time. You also sometimes have to beg them to participate because they do not see the bigger picture,” he said.

Project member Vuyokazi Mgushelo said since joining the group he felt at home. “I was inspired by what they do. Very few people are concerned about the well being of the children,” she said.

The former Leap Science and Maths School pupil described the festival as exciting. “It really brings a lot of people from different backgrounds together,” she said.

“It does not end there, it also gave me a lot of opportunities.”

The theme for this year’s carnival is “Street Life”.

The City’s mayoral committee member for tourism, events and economic development, Garreth Bloor, added: “This year’s carnival will celebrate our diverse communities and cultures.

“The ‘Street Life’ theme explores how people use public space and how they interact in those spaces.

Mr Bloor said 40 entertainment groups from communities and schools across the city will have their moment in the spotlight on the fan walk, including the Aphrodite Belly Dancers from Athlone, Lavender Hill High School, the Likwezi Arts Project from Nyanga, and the Phathizwelethu Marimba Band from Gugulethu.

The CEO of the Cape Town Carnival, Jay Douwes, said: “The Cape Town Carnival works with an extensive base of stakeholders made up of participating communities of performers, artists, media partners and sponsors to bring spectators an experience of togetherness and celebration not to be rivalled in South Africa today.”